In not less than three states — Utah, New Hampshire and Texas — Republicans have pushed for banning conventional poll scanning machines in favor of hand-counting paper ballots, an antiquated course of that specialists worry might inject error into an election system the place little or no has been discovered. Critics additionally fear that the inevitable delay in outcomes from hand counting can be a chance for these seeking to sow doubt concerning the end result of future contests.
One GOP county chair in Texas, for instance, stated he has “issues” concerning the election, despite the fact that Trump received the Lone Star State by greater than 630,000 votes, and there is no proof that fraud or irregularities influenced outcomes there or wherever else.
“I belief individuals. I do not belief electronics,” Daniel Rogers, chair of the Republican Celebration in Potter County within the Texas Panhandle, informed CNN in explaining his push for hand counting ballots. “I’ve computer systems; they do not at all times do what we would like.”
However the premise behind shifting again to hand-counting — that it is by some means safer — is not supported by a lot proof.
Douglas Jones, a retired professor of pc science on the College of Iowa and a voting machine professional, stated there are uncommon situations during which voting machines might trigger main election points. However it often takes a human to mess issues up.
“In the USA, the mechanical voting machine would not make any clerical errors except somebody makes an error in configuring the machine, after which they’re enormous,” Jones informed CNN.
Hand counting solely works in elections the place there may be one problem on the poll, like particular elections or in off-cycle election years, he stated. In bigger elections the place there are a number of candidates and positions to fill, Jones stated, voting machines are finest as a result of hand counts are then topic to “clerical errors,” resembling the potential for election officers forgetting to incorporate a precinct within the closing outcomes or counting a precinct twice.
“They are typically reporting sloppiness that is fairly actual. However it would not quantity to a scientific deal. It quantities to individuals below excessive stress, making an attempt to get issues accomplished shortly and making errors,” Jones stated.
These “similar errors you can also make once you’re hand counting,” he added.
Republicans seize on small-town New Hampshire controversy
Republicans within the New Hampshire state Home have pre-filed proposed laws that may ban using ballot-scanning machines in favor of hand counting ballots.
“If they have an extra window of time of hours, days, weeks when Granite Staters do not know the outcomes of the election that they only participated in, that is going to solid doubt on our democratic establishments,” Wilhelm informed the newspaper.
The controversy started when a hand recount requested by one of many dropping candidates discovered that decades-old machines had undercounted ballots for 4 Republican state legislative candidates by about 300 votes and overcounted by 99 the votes for a Democratic candidate. These small discrepancies, nevertheless, did not make any distinction within the general outcomes — the 4 Republicans nonetheless received and the Democrat misplaced.
GOP Gov. Chris Sununu then signed a measure authorizing an audit, however even he stated on the time that an remoted incident just like the one in Windham was not a cause to fret concerning the state’s elections. “New Hampshire elections are protected, safe, and dependable,” he stated final April. “Out of the lots of of hundreds of ballots solid this final yr, we noticed solely very minor, remoted points — which is proof our system works.”
“We discovered no foundation to imagine that the miscounts present in Windham point out a sample of partisan bias or a failed election,” learn the state’s report.
And Deputy Secretary of State David Scanlan, a former Republican state consultant, pushed again towards the notion that the Windham incident was an issue with the scanning machines, saying it stemmed from the choice by the native election officers to make use of a “folding machine that was within the workplace” because of the giant workload.
Underneath state legislation, cities and cities have the correct to resolve in the event that they need to use poll counting machines, based on Scanlan, however he added that vote-counting discrepancies are most probably to happen in a hand depend.
Nonetheless, some voters in different Granite State cities like Hampton, Greenland and Kensington, have pushed to maneuver handy counting.
Douglas Wilson, who led the failed effort in Greenland, stated in introducing his petition in November that he had “religion in ballot staff and it is the machines which can be the issue.” Wilson pointed to issues he had concerning the dealing with of reminiscence playing cards and microchips contained in the voting gear and doable tampering.
However these doubts have been shortly dispelled by the city’s chief elections officer, Dean Bouffard, who defined that reminiscence playing cards and microchips are dealt with by election officers solely and are examined and sealed earlier than use. Bouffard additionally stated that voting machines aren’t related to any wi-fi community and thus cannot talk by way of the web. Greenland voted final month towards banning voting machines with a closing vote of 1,077 to 120.
AccuVote machines have been utilized in New Hampshire because the mid Nineteen Nineties, based on Secretary of State’s workplace, and Scanlan stated there is no proof any have been hacked, echoing Bouffard that they’re “are stand-alone units with no wi-fi functionality, and all exterior ports have been disabled.”
Different voters like Hampton Selectman Regina Barnes have raised issues over the age of the machine’s software program, calling it a “large concern” at an October assembly.
Scanlan admitted to CNN that the software program is outdated however that “he isn’t conscious of any glitches,” saying the machines are “very correct, supplied the voter correctly marks the poll with them.”
Petition drive in Utah
A proposed poll initiative in Utah, the place Trump received handily in 2020, goals to return the state to in-person voting at native precincts, with all ballots, together with absentee ballots, being hand counted by election judges on election evening.
Utah is one among a handful of states that conducts its elections nearly completely by mail, based on the Nationwide Convention of State Legislatures. All registered voters are despatched a poll while not having to request one. Many of the state makes use of ES&S machines for tabulating votes, based on Ryan Cowley, the state’s director of elections.
The initiative to ditch these machines is being spearheaded by Safe Vote Utah, a company led by Lew Moore, who managed the 2008 GOP presidential marketing campaign of former Texas Rep. Ron Paul.
Moore emphasised that he is not “making any allegations about something that may have occurred” in Utah or accusing anybody of “malfeasance.” However he went on to baselessly solid doubt on the machines tabulating votes.
“They’re simply machines whirling round you. I imply, you do not know what is going on on with these machines,” he stated.
However Cowley does know. Each county conducts a pre-election take a look at on its voting machines to make sure that they’re correctly studying ballots, he informed CNN. And after an election, he added, every county performs a “public audit,” which takes about 1% of every county’s ballots and compares how the machines learn the ballots with how the ballots have been solid.
“There has by no means been a discrepancy in these totals and the way these ballots have been counted,” Cowley stated.
Issues about hand counts in Texas
Trump additionally received by a big margin in Texas, the place Rogers, the county chairman, wished the March Republican major in his county to be counted by hand.
His proposal was met with shock and logistical issues from Melynn Huntley, the elections administrator for Potter County, who stated the complete depend might take so long as 20 to 22 hours.
She additionally raised issues that it might result in confusion amongst voters due to guidelines about the place major voters might solid their ballots within the major versus within the normal election. Major voters must go to their neighborhood polling place versus voting facilities across the state the place any registered voter can go.
Rogers in the end deserted his plan after county commissioners didn’t move his decision — and though his assertion on the time acknowledged a few of those self same logistical issues about GOP voters having to make use of two completely different voting strategies within the major and the overall election — he hasn’t given up.
He has vowed to maintain pushing for a hand-marked and hand-counted poll course of, repeating unfounded claims about its superior safety.
“We’ll proceed to additional advocate for concepts and options voters will be assured in that require hand-marked ballots and are cost-effective, dependable, safe, and superior in stopping fraud,” stated Rogers.
No matter Rogers’ efforts, some adjustments are coming to the county’s present Direct Recording Digital system, during which voters make their decisions on a digital terminal that information vote totals instantly into pc reminiscence. Huntley stated the county is shifting towards a voter verified paper system during which voters’ decisions will embody a paper again up. Mail-in voting is the one technique that presently makes use of paper.
Amid its 2021 efforts to make voting more durable within the state, the GOP-led legislature handed a invoice that requires all counties to begin shifting towards voting machines that provide a paper path by 2026.